"Mean" Joe Greene finally got what was coming to him -- and it wasn't a blindside tackle. Thirty years after appearing in one of television's most iconic ads, the former Pittsburgh Steelers player and four-time Super Bowl champion was finally given an award for his part in a 1979 Coca-Cola commercial that has been cited as one of the best in television advertising history.
The ad shows the defensive tackle limping off the field and into the locker room, when a young fan stops Greene to tell him just how great he is and offers him a bottle of Coke. After a bit of coaxing, Greene accepts the drink and shows his gratitude by flipping his jersey to the youthful admirer. The ad concludes with the brand's famous tagline at the time, "Have a Coke and a smile."
Mean Joe, now 63, wasn't available to receive the award at a ceremony when the award was first presented. But that changed Sunday ahead of the Bengals-Steelers game with Greene on hand to accept the honor three decades later. The ad's other star, Tommy Okon, who played the wide-eyed youngster and was 9 at the time of filming, was on hand for the award's presentation.
The commercial was awarded two CLIOS in 1980, one for best ad and a second for best male performance, according to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. But Greene never got his statuette.
Despite the passage of time, the ad still has much of the charm it exuded when it first aired. One obvious change, however, is the glass bottle from which Greene drinks. Once as common as rotary-dial phones, glass bottles have largely been sidelined to make way for lighter plastic and aluminum. No word yet on how the pro-football Hall of Famer feels about that strategy, but given his team's "steely" image, we're guessing Greene prefers glass to plastic.
'Mean' Joe Greene finally gets his award -- 30 years after famous Coke ad airs